The Hague

The entrance of the International Criminal Court (ICC) is seen in The Hague. (photo credit: REUTERS)
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    Top Highs
    3 - Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked’s High Court revolution This year, Shaked completed a multiyear process in which she appointed 40% of the current justices on the High Court, including adding slightly more conservatives than liberals. She and supporters on the Right have called this a revolution that they hope will bring the court’s values back in line with the voting public, which has repeatedly elected right-wing governments in the last decade. They say that their own revolution is necessary to reverse what is dubbed as the revolution of former High Court chief Aharon Barak during the mid-1990s, in which the court became more assertive about vetoing Knesset laws it viewed as unconstitutional.  
    4 - International Criminal Court Prosecution versus Israelis Time may no longer be on Israel’s side with International Criminal Court prosecutor Fatou Bensouda being near a decision on Israel, Hamas and war-crimes allegations, but the US is more firmly on Israel’s side than it has been in years. Both US President Donald Trump and his national security adviser, John Bolton, threatened the ICC with a variety of consequences if it goes after either the US or Israel. Furthermore, in the recent ICC report, there was a first sign that the it may give Israel a broad pass on the 2014 Gaza war-crimes allegations. This would be a stunning turnaround from a 2015 UN Human Rights Council report, which condemned the IDF as having systematically perpetrated war crimes. The ICC also suggested that since Hamas has not undertaken any probes of its own actions, there would be no obstacle from her criminally investigating its fighters for war crimes. Such a criminal investigation against Hamas would be a first.  
    Top Lows  
    1 - The Netanyahus’ prosecutions From the prime minister’s perspective, he is being hunted for having wealthy friends and for trying to get fair coverage in the media, just like other politicians who have varied dealings with media-outlet owners. This would be a low since he argues that the Left has not been able to beat him in elections, and is therefore trying to unseat him through trumped up charges. His tune on this may shift once Mandelblit, as expected, announces his intent to indict. The attorney-general cannot be accused of being a left-winger or of bias against Netanyahu, having served as his cabinet secretary immediately before the prime minister got him his current job. In that case, Netanyahu is likely to argue that Mandelblit was overcome by pressure from the allegedly left-wing legal establishment that surrounds him.  
    2 - The High Court of Justice decision to hear petitions to strike the Jewish Nation-State Law as unconstitutional Those pushing for the law, especially Shaked, were furious that the High Court did not reject the petitions against it with no hearing. They say that since the law was passed as a Basic Law, it has quasi-constitutional status and that it is beyond the court’s authority. Shaked and others did not even beat around the push; they threatened a variety of measures to reduce the court’s powers if it decides to strike the law. For them, the law finally begins to strengthen and define Jewish values in cases where they think that courts have used the state’s democratic character to stomp on its Jewish character. There have already been some lower-court decisions which cited the law as a basis for new precedents.  
    4 - International Criminal Court Prosecution versus Israel
    Four years after launching a preliminary review, International Criminal Court prosecutor Fatou Bensouda reported this month that she is close to a decision on whether to open a full-fledged criminal probe against Israel and Hamas for alleged war crimes. This could be very bad news for Israel, legally and diplomatically. Until now, the best thing about the ICC, as opposed to other UN-type bodies, was that it had not rushed to judgment against Israel about war-crimes allegations dating back to the 2014 Gaza War. The war-crimes issue was continuously pushed off despite Palestinian Authority demands for a decision years ago. A decision in the near future would nix a scenario that Israel would have preferred, where Bensouda might wait to decide until November 2020 and the possible election of new US president less hostile to the ICC. Also, Bensouda has issued multiple real-time public warnings to Israel about potential war crimes relating to the settlements, house demolitions and the ongoing conflict on the Gaza border. Finally, the ICC Pretrial Chamber bizarrely tried to resurrect a war-crimes case against Israel relating to the 2010 Mavi Marmara flotilla, despite Bensouda herself deciding not to prosecute it multiple times. 
    5 - High Court orders state to let Lara Alqasem into the country and freezes similar proceedings For critics of the decision, this was a major self-inflicted wound. After being hit for years by the BDS-movement, the Knesset and minister Erdan finally conceived of ways to fight back. One way was to deny BDS activists entry into Israel so that they could not use the country’s free openness for their propaganda. Moreover, some BDS activists or those considering BDS activism have strong ties to aspects of Israel; despite their critical views, they do not want to be barred from visiting. Critics said that alqasem had tried to cover up her past and that she would return to her BDS roots as soon as she left Israel – and with renewed propaganda from her time here. They said that BDS must be fought with strength and not naivete, which the two lower courts had agreed with. For them, losing the case weakened the entire policy of limiting BDS activists' access and left Israel more vulnerable.
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